Introduction: What is the “Fake News” Scandal, and Why is it Important?
In the weeks after the 2016 presidential election, many Americans were left feeling anxious and uncertain about what would happen now that Donald Trump was in office. Some women and minorities, worried about the threat of a Trump presidency and the future of their own rights, set out to take steps to protect themselves in the future. They didn’t have to wait long: a few months later, a number of people reported receiving texts from people claiming they had been sexually assaulted by Trump supporters during the election. The culprit was revealed as former Democratic New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn. These messages were so convincing that many recipients felt victimized again, despite having known all along that they were making up the story. The reason for their deception was to convince people that hate crimes against minorities and others were on the rise, and thus motivate voters to not vote for Trump in the future. What this shows is how important it is for people, who want to start a debate about an issue, to tell the truth. People using fake “news” stories (e.g., hoaxes, rumors or lies) can cause terrible harm when they are believed by the public.
But there are even more important reasons for people to be careful about what they write and say. Fake news stories can have devastating consequences. In much the same way that fake news can result in dangerous physical emergencies, fake news can cause economic disruption, political tumult and social upheaval. Even worse, a fake story has the potential to cause irreparable harm to politicians and public figures who are falsely accused of committing horrible crimes or other serious acts.
How Fake News Led to the Devastating Wyo-Mings Ranchland’s Homeless Situation
After election results were announced on November 8, 2016, evacuated residents of the Wyomings Ranchlands found themselves at the mercy of the local police department. Though their homes had been destroyed and their livelihoods lost, ranchlands residents did not have official housing assistance to help them through this difficult time. Plagued by unemployment and rife with crime, a sense of distrust had set in between the Wyomings residents and law enforcement officials. Pushed to the breaking point, some residents began to take matters into their own hands. Several letters were sent to police officials and media outlets about various issues in which ranchlands residents claimed their property was being harmed. One of these letters alleged that police had attempted to make them leave areas of the ranchlands that they had lived in for generations, alleging that they were only allowed to live in certain areas west of Overland Avenue, ignoring the fact that many of those people were still displaced from Hurricane Katrina. Another letter detailed reports of crime and drug trafficking throughout the Wyomings. The letters also stated that county officials, including the sheriff and their deputies, were standing in the way of residents receiving federal funds. Though such claims would have been disheartening for many law enforcement personnel, it was not unusual for this type of distrust to emerge after a natural disaster. (1)
What are the Effects of Fake News on a Community?
The Wyomings area has seen a dramatic rise in crime after the election of Donald Trump. Victims of the fake news scandal are now so distrustful of police officers that they rarely call for help, for fear that the authorities might be lying to them, trying to make them look like liars themselves. Many residents in Wyomings feel that the fake news scandal has ultimately caused the massive homeless crisis that many of them now find themselves in.
“We’ve been called all kinds of criminals,” said one of the farmers in Wyomings. “But these calls were coming from all across the nation, not just from us. Nearly everyone in Wyomings has been affected by this weird crime wave, but now every single cow and chicken farm and vegetable garden is seeing increased crime in their area as well. The police can’t seem to help us at all.”
The people in Wyomings say that they’re not opposed to law enforcement and the police, but that their concerns are very real. The problems in Wyomings began after the election of Donald Trump, and it has only worsened since then. Police officials are now openly saying that they’re afraid to respond to any calls for help. The public is now wary of police and judges, who are seen by many people as corrupt.
The Weaponization of Fake News and How it Perpetuated Real Problems like the Wyo-Mings Ranchland Homelessness
The tidal wave of fake news on social media has created a real problem for the Wyomings area. Because of the harassment and harassment that such letters can cause, many residents no longer trust local police, who in turn feel threatened by this distrustful attitude. If a cop ever pulls you over for speeding or any other offense, do not be fooled into thinking that you are completely safe from being framed, as fake news can easily be weaponized to make you confess to imaginary crimes like DUI. The weaponization of fake news is only exacerbating minority issues and encouraging people to take matters into their own hands. While the Wyo-Mings Police Department is taking steps to prevent these issues from getting worse, they are not preventing the publishing of fake stories that are harmful to their relationship with citizens. This has led to a breakdown of trust in civil law and order that has turned some areas into no-go zones.
What Happens Next? How Can We Prevent or Stop Fake News in Our Towns?
The fake news scandal is just one of many problems that are being perpetuated by the weaponization of social media. There are countless posts on social media that are not real but can still seriously damage a person’s reputation, or even cause them to lose their job or apartments. Though it might seem simple to prevent these kinds of problems from happening in the first place, it will take considerable effort and resources to combat such a widespread problem, especially since so many people are using social media for personal or professional reasons. For instance, as previously mentioned, many of the fake news stories are created by people who claim to be victims of Donald Trump in order to make a profit. It is highly unlikely that one person could completely prevent fake news from being created, especially if people decide to make money using social media for those purposes. The best possible solution for this problem is for the government to step in with legislation and regulations against fake news. By regulating social media like television broadcasting, we can ensure that only trustworthy and legitimate stories are told to the public. This could not only help to prevent fake news from existing, but also cut down on the amount of time and energy wasted by people who look for fake news in the first place. The government has already began to regulate social media by banning both fake news and accounts that spread fake news but, it is necessary for them to go further in order to keep such problems under control.